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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
Budapest has two parts, each facing one another across the Danube.  As you view the river from Buda (above), one is near the old town and important historical sites, including Gellert Hill, Liberation Monument and Fisherman's Bastion.  From this view, Pest is "across" the Danube,  full of "new" development begun in the 19th century and continuing today as it emerges from the communist occupation between 1944-1989.   Evidence of  dramatic new constructions, refurbishments, recent architectural changes, communist and post-communist life are everywhere.   
Heroes Square and Millenium Park are located in Pest.
Everything you learn about Hungary starts with St. Stephen who established the state in about 1000 ad. His energy, strength, integrity and determination to weld together disparate tribes into a Magyar nation has been celebrated since, and symbolized  both by the “Crown of St. Stephen” and the “Right Hand of St. Stephen”.  The Crown has become an iconic form of the Hungarian “Contract with Heaven”, the commitment that each emperor must give to govern in the best interest of his people.  Stephen's  "Right Hand" symbolizes both his strength in setting down resistance and the absolute conviction that his word was his bond.  Seen astride his horse, the two crosses on his staff indicate that he has been crowned both by nobility and by the pope.  In modern Hungarian currency, he fronts the 10,000 FORINT. (Valued at $50)
After recognizing St. Stephen, there are two other events which permeate Hungary today: the 1896 Millenium Celebration and the 1992 release from Russian communism.
In the time of Stephen, when he was seeking to convert his population to Catholicism, the Pope sent him an aide, Bishop Gellert.  So unpopular was the Bishop that when Stephen died, the local populace rose up and captured the bishop, sealed him in a cask loosely filled with nails and rolled him aaaallllllll the way down this slope, now called Gellert Hill, where the cask found the river and he drowned.  It was a tough diocese.
There goes the bishop....down Gellert Hill
Anie explains all of this to Linda at Heroes Square.
In 1896, Hungary celebrated the Millennial Anniversary of the formation of the state. The country had been preparing for this milestone for decades, making tremendous improvements in its infrastructure.  The new parliament building was beautiful, extensive and balanced, and celebrated the numbers '1896' in many ways.  Around it, a series of 18 different wells, filled with ice, provided cooled air which was moved directly to each delegate's seat in Parliament.   Thus air conditioning came to politics.  There are 96 steps from ground level to the floor of the building.   The radius of the dome is 18 meters, the height of it being 96 meters from the floor of the building.
The city of Budapest essentially reconstructed itself in the late 19th century producing new street networks, most of its neoclassical buildings,and several constructions by Gustave Eiffel, including the train depot which now houses the Food Market.  Budapest built the first subway on the continent. The Millennial Castle, featuring styles typical of different settlements from around Hungary, graces the parkland adjoining Heroes Square. 
Hungarian Parliament, beauty, power and tradition, along the Danube.
Herend Porcelain
The Herend Porcelain Manufacturers
(www.herend.com/) made this (6' 8" x 60 lbs) Parliament Vase to mark the new Millennium and presented it to the Hungarian Parliament on January 24, 2000, where it stands in the salon of the former Upper House.  The base bears the inscription, "A gift to the Hungarian Nation from the Herend Porcelain Manufactory Ltd". Round the vase, there are quotations from the most famous Hungarian writers and poets of the last thousand years.
Herend American Museum Site is at this link
http://www.jcu.edu/language/hunghemu/hunghe7h.htm
BUDA CASTLE.  This is the high point overlooking the Danube and has always been its military strongpoint.  The Russians stormed it in 1944 to take it from the Germans.   The shell marks of that assault continue to "decorate" the wall as one enters the driveway up to the bastion.
Early in our tour around Budapest, Anie drove around a corner and pointed down the street you see on the left.  The second house, on the right, she said, (note it is no longer "Stalin Grey" as is the first house), is the most important home in Budapest.  Why, we asked?  "Because I was raised there," she said, laughing. Directly across the street from her house is the pedestal (in pic at right) upon which rested Stalin's statue.  During the Hungarian Rebellion of 1956, bullets were flying around this site, striking her house, and to protect her from the firefight, her parents put her into the bathtub. There she stayed and slept until the fighting was over.  She was, says her father, Laszlo, "excited, but we were scared". 
Covered frescoes, shedding paint. Now known as "Stalin Gothic"
From the time of their arrival in 1944, the Soviets went to great lengths to "level" society, and implement their philosophy that all people were the same and prohibiting distinguishing features on their clothing or their buildings.  Everything was painted grey or black, covering frescoes, mosaics, paint, decorative wall sculptures and brick.  It was a depressing environment, and after the Soviet's left in 1992, the people of Budapest have been taking back their sense of color and creativity.  The city, especially Pest, is being renovated, repainted, restored and in many cases refurbished by placing parking underground and turning lots into grass parks and pathways.
AFTER.....AND BEFORE...ADJOINING BLDGS DOME ON SCHOOL OF MECHANICAL ARTS
From vases to buildings, expert Hungarian porcelain graces the walls and rooftops.  It is an exquisite feature of architectural Budapest. Want to know more of porcelain?  Go to:
www.herend.com
Russian Embassy (still Stalin Gothic today) with the only remaining hammer and sicle in the city.
Renovation with attractive style.
FOOD
Perhaps our finest dining experience off ship was at Karpatia Restaurant on Andrassy Ave.  Linda had Hungarian goulash; I had weinerschnitzel and my dessert was both beautiful and delicious, as above.
CHIMNEY CAKES
HATS MADE OF MUSHROOMS
(offered by gypsies from Transylvania)
FOOD MARKET IN RAILWAY BUILDING
(by Eiffel)
ON THE STREET
THE TIN MAN
TIME TO EAT
HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KID.
RADAR DETECTOR/DEFLECTOR
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